Many people think Alabama and Michigan could meet in the national title game in January. If that were to happen, Todd McShay would have some concerns about the Wolverines.
The ESPN college football and NFL draft analyst went on The Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday to talk about the latest College Football Playoff Rankings. Alabama and Michigan are 9-0 and ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively.
When asked how he would see a matchup between the two teams play out, McShay said he wasn’t sure Michigan’s offense could keep up.
“I think, defensively, Michigan can play with anybody,” McShay said. “I really believe that. And I think that would be a great matchup, the Michigan defense versus the Alabama offense…On offense, they’ve looked outstanding the last two weeks. But it’s been against Michigan State’s defense, which is reeling this year, and against Maryland’s defense, which just doesn’t stack up.
“So the last time I’ve seen them against a good defense, a quality defense, was Wisconsin. And they really struggled to move the ball.”
Michigan beat Wisconsin in a 14-7 battle. Alabama is even tougher than the Badgers on defense. The Crimson Tide ranks No. 2 in the nation in total defense behind the Wolverines, and No. 1 overall in rushing defense. If Michigan were to challenge the Tide, McShay said it would depend on the play of Wolverines QB Wilton Speight.
Speight has completed 64 percent of his passes or more in each of Michigan’s last three games while throwing four touchdowns and just one interception. McShay said he is playing better and is being “more of a leader.”
“But is his recent production and success a product of the defenses he’s been playing?” he asked. “That’s what we don’t know, but we’re getting ready to find out.”
Michigan plays tough defenses at Iowa and Ohio State over the next three weeks, and could face Wisconsin again in the Big Ten title game. And if Speight passes all those tests, he could be rewarded by having to face the best defense in the nation that’s not his own.
“It just really comes down to Speight and those receivers being able to hit those big plays against an Alabama pass rush…that you know is going to get pressure on Speight quickly,” McShay said. “So he’s got to be a lot more precise and decisive with his decisions against a good defense.”